Dr. Tina Plantes
A physics professor at Johns Hopkins University, Tina loves her work. In fact, she’d rather be married to her work than to any man. But when she starts to find herself in alternate realities, she gets very distracted – not just because she’s a physicist with a real-life physics problem, but also because she has fallen in love – in more than one reality! By tackling the greatest scientific problem she has ever faced, Tina quickly learns that her actions have profound consequences – not just for her, but also for her new beau, Dr. Morris… and everyone they’ve ever met.
Character introduced in Book 1, Chapter 1.
Exceptional Ability: Extremely high intelligence and cognitive ability (very superior, upper extreme, or highly advanced depending on the scale used). Although her odd experiences — i.e., moving into alternate realities — occur mostly while she is asleep, they are not the result of a physical condition or mental ability, like telepathy. The cause is currently unknown.
Adopted as the only child of a couple from a Mexican orphanage, Tina never knew her real parents, nor did she have any interest, except in passing, to find out. Her adoptive parents moved to the United States when Tina was still an infant and raised her in an English-only household and sent her to private schools, in an effort to give her the greatest chance of success in America. Both her adoptive parents passed away of natural causes when Tina was in college, and that was the end of any connection she had to family. This would seem to be a sad circumstance for any young woman, but Tina was always grounded firmly in reality and the here and now. Any anxiety or stress that came her way, she dealt with it through work, specifically in the study of Physics. She threw herself into the deep end of the physics pool and came up with some remarkable insights into quantum physics, space-time physics and furthering or challenging generally accepted notions of the day.
An introvert and a person of the mind, she was content with keeping distractions, like interpersonal relationships, separate from her work life, which was her entire life for the most part. Although, she did find time for reading ancient and historical literature, and physical fitness through martial arts.
Though she never really wanted to have children, when she turned 40, she began to think more about her legacy. Without family, would she ever be remembered? Since she had no children — and no built-in legacy that comes with kids — would there be something in her work that could serve as a legacy. She also started to realize that, although she was a physics professor at a small, but relatively well-regarded university, it had been many years since she had a profound, original idea regarding physics.
It was during this minor existential crisis, that Tina began to have unusual dreams. During a two-week period of time, she had vivid dreams: a man kept coming to meet her. She had never seen him before, but he needed her help. She knew it had something to do with alternate realities, but she couldn’t hang onto the idea. The images kept coming to her: a manuscript she had written but actually never wrote, a knife, some notes in her handwriting carried by this stranger. Something terrible was happening — people were dying. She saw herself being killed. And then the dreams just stopped. She can’t remember the man’s face anymore, but the experience was profound.
She took a long-term leave of absence from her professorship and began to travel and dwell on her experience. She also began to write about it, but only in general concepts, not as though it had really happened to her — people would think she was crazy, not that it wasn’t exactly what she was thinking, too! She wrote both a scientific discussion about alternate realities, and also published a series of fictional short stories about alternate realities, which proved to have some popularity among science fiction enthusiasts. She eventually went back to teaching at Johns Hopkins.
During her long “hiatus from real life” as she put it, something else happened to her, and this time, she wrote down everything she could and tried to hang onto it all. She was visited by a Chinese monk, Renshu Sun — he did not approach her in a Buddhist robe, he just stated his affiliation. He had a bizarre story to share with her, one that he believed she was uniquely able to understand given her physics background and her imagination (he had read her short stories). And his encounter with her was urgent, because he said he could not remain here long. Here’s what he told her:
Hello, my name is Renshu Sun. Please listen to me. I cannot stay here long and I have traveled a considerable way to see you. This is the start and the end. I think you will understand when I say this is the first and last time we meet.
I believe you are the key to understanding alternate realities. I too have been seeing them. I was ordained as a bhikkhu, what you would call a Buddhist monk. I always found it easy to reach a deeply meditative state even when I was young. I was a monk for a few years until one day, a day that spilled over into night, I was engaged in a long meditative session in my room, and suddenly my perception changed. I was no longer in my room. Indeed, I was no longer at our monastery. I was in what appeared to be a temple — it was quite destroyed, and all around me lay the ruins. I was shocked and I immediately came out of this vision back into my room.
Arrogantly, I wondered if I had not seen a glimpse of Nirvana. But what of Nirvana? A ruined temple? Was this what the Buddha himself had seen? I was too young and naive even then to know what I was really seeing. It was disturbing, but I decided to seek out that temple again. During my free time the following week, I meditated deeply again. And it came to me. The same temple. This time, I vowed to stay as long as I could. I concentrated on this place. I realized I was sitting amidst the ruins, so I stood up. Before me was a strange symbol carved into the floor. It was nothing I had seen before. I looked around me. The debris was everywhere and my immediate reaction was that I wanted to rebuild it, but the feeling inside me was much like the place. I was helpless to repair it.
I decided to explore outside the temple. It was dark outside. Or rather, there was darkness, though I wouldn’t call it night. There were also clouds swirling around the temple. Some appeared to take form, like misty people or what I felt were hungry ghosts who could not come inside the temple, but spun around it in a turbulent cyclone. I went up to one of the cloudy images. It looked like a person. It could have been frightening, but the image didn’t last long. Suddenly, I was in an empty room, or rather it appeared to be a public meeting place where people go to have dinner and congregate. There were tables and chairs, but no people. I had never seen it before, but it looked like some place you might see in an old American movie.
As I stood in this room, I noticed that there were plates with food, but no people. Then I could hear something, someone talking, faintly. Then more muttering, imperceptible at first. Then the ghosts — translucent people started to appear, most sitting at the tables, some walking around. They become more opaque, but they did not seem to notice me. And then I realized they were all moving backward, speaking backward, too. But the realization quickly hit me — it was me that was out of place, out of time compared to them. Something was happening to me.
I fled that place and ended up back in the temple, and then back in my room. It would be a few months before I chose to journey back to the temple. It scared me, but not for the reason you might imagine. I realized that the temple, that place I kept coming to, had nothing to do with my religion or worse still, it might indicate that religion could not explain it. I continued to visit the temple, observe the people. There were people from all over the world that I could visit by leaving that temple.”
And then he cut his story short. He told Tina that he had to leave now, but that he wanted to let her know he had seen her in this place, too. That she was the only one who ever recognized him — regarded him — during that time. He believed she could perceive this, too. The last thing he said to her was, “don’t forget this — you will not find me here or now, but you will find me.” And he literally vanished before her eyes. Tina woke up from this dream — or? Had she dreamt all that? It was more than a dream, like those visions before, but even more memorable. She immediately wrote down everything she could recall to the smallest details.
She attempted to locate Renshu Sun, but nobody, not all the Buddhist orders or monastic communities in China she contacted, and she contacted many, had ever heard of him. It was as if he did not exist. And he might not exist. Yet. Or, she began to reason that he might not exist in this reality. For a time, she tried to actively attempt to dream to get the visions back. Then she tried mediation, but her overly active brain and general lack of patience didn’t work very well for her.
Eventually, Tina began to wonder if this wasn’t all in her head. After a routine brain scan for problems came up negative, she confided in a colleague who was also a psychiatrist. The colleague told her that it would be very unusual for Tina to suddenly have a psychotic episode at this point in her life especially one so incredibly detailed. The colleague put her in touch with Dr. Daniel Trent who is an expert on very unusual mental phenomenon.
Tina met with Daniel and told him her story. He shared with her that it didn’t sound like something he’d heard of before and he’d heard of some incredible things. He suggested she attempt to actively induce an altered state and also suggested methods to do it, including the use of a mind-altering drug. She had never done drugs before — not because she didn’t have the opportunity in college, but because she was very much afraid she would lose control or damage her brain or do something really inappropriate. Still though, she wasn’t a kid anymore, and she could think of no other way to “get there”. She kept telling herself that something like peyote is sufficiently mind-altering and it’s also natural. And, after all, this is all in the name of science.
Now, after illegally obtaining the desired controlled substance, Tina locks herself in her apartment. It’s night. She’s alone, but she’s feeling giddy and giggly. She’s like some dumb school kid about to trip! She decides it’s a good idea to eat, and maybe some wine to calm her nerves. Damn, should she have had alcohol before taking peyote? She opens up the package. It contains strips of cactus. “What the hell — how do I use this?” There are brief instructions on a note inserted in the package: Chew and wash down with liquid. “How many?” She tries one to start. Very bitter. She waits about 5 minutes and doesn’t feel anything. She tries another strip. A third can’t hurt. It doesn’t taste that bad after all. Should she be washing these down with wine?
Then something happens…
Dr. Morris’ Medical Notes
Psychoactive compounds have been shown to enhance some telepathic and related abilities, and on a few documented occasions, provide telepathic or related abilities to people without inherent abilities. The problem with attempting to induce or enhance a mental ability with a hallucinogenic drug is that the results cannot be predicted.